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10 March 2015

‘Journey of Change Model’, or ‘Life Effectiveness Questionnaire’ – welcome to the world of impact measurement in 2015!

Tuesday 10 March 2015

My name’s John and I’m one of London Youth's Sports Development Officers. I’ve been with the organisation since 2009, working on our award-winning Getting Ready programme with youth clubs and organisations across the capital. Before that, I spent two years with Nacro, the crime reduction charity as their Bedford SCORE Co-ordinator. I’m approaching nine years in the community sport/youth sector and for the past two years have worked with my colleagues, youth workers, partners and young people to help establish an evidence base for why we should blend sport and youth work.

Being honest, I was massively sceptical about the process when it was first introduced. I’m all for change, learning and clarity on what we do. What I’m not for is submerging young people with excessive paperwork, questionnaires and forcing a system upon already hard pressed and under-resourced youth workers that provide little return short and long term. So, when Dimitrios (our Head of Learning) attended our first planning meeting, he probably left frustrated as we battled against him and questioned the reasons and need for implementing the impact assessment framework. Externally, my concerns were met by youth workers who were juggling a range of evaluation tools from various funders and young people motivated to take part in sport, but, less keen to complete a school-type questionnaire.

What changed for me? Working with Dimitrios and the team, I had an active role in shaping what the Sports Development Journey of Change was and the outcomes it enabled young people to achieve. London Youth didn’t set these, my experience and knowledge was taken on-board, so the Journey of Change was a model I knew worked as it’s what I had delivered day in day out since 2009. As a Sport Development Officer, I balance on-the-ground, community-based work with representing youth clubs at pan-London meetings. This helped shift my concerns and made me realise two things:

  1. Impact work is not easy, in fact it’s a huge cultural change for London Youth and the sector, yet it is the way that we need to be going to ensure we offer the best service possible for young people.
  2. Getting Ready’s Journey of Change model was unique; we were leading the way in developing a robust evidence base to go hand in hand with our strong participation figures and this made partners/funders take us far more seriously.

In the past few months, we’ve also just released our key learning findings. I’m not a person who gets overly excited about data, I prefer to trust my eyes and use my instincts to confirm whether a sport session is working well or how a young person is developing as a coach. The headlines though made me very proud and what a buzz to hear that mine and the team’s work is genuinely making young people more confident, resilient and giving them a platform to have better relationships.

London Youth’s sports development programme has been strengthened not weakened by our impact framework.

During my job interview back in November 2008, I was asked the question, what does success look like for you?  I remember my reply being that “Getting Ready was here in 30+ years’ time”. And now I truly believe that this evidence base we are developing is going to be a strong factor for why and how we achieve this longevity.